Katherine has been sent away from the bombing in London to a school in Scotland with her younger brother and sister, Robbie and Amelie. When they arrive at Rookskill Castle, where the school is housed, Katherine senses instantly that something is very wrong and that evil lurks in the halls and walls of the castle. Her fears are confirmed when other children from the school begin to change or disappear. Luckily, before she left London her aunt gave her a strange peace of jewelry, a Chatelaine, an told her it has magical powers. As more children disappear, Katherine, and her bold new American friend, Peter, must figure out what is going on and how they can stop it before time runs out.
One of my friends at work really liked this book and I liked it alright. It is pretty spooky, with a seriously creepy villain. The author switches point of view between Katherine and the evil villain. The scariest part of the book is to see how the villain's mind works, justifying her actions at first, and finally abandoning all pretense. I don't think this one crosses the this-is-just-too-horrifying line (like Coraline did). It was scary, but many children, especially those who like spine-tinglers, should be able to read it without serious trauma. Don't give it to anyone prone to nightmares, though. The author leaves the book wide open for a sequel. (388 p)